Jordan Cook was one of a few hundred lucky souls who packed

Jordan Cook was one of a few hundred lucky souls who packed the Showbox in April 2010 for the last-minute booking of a band called Nudedragons. Savvy music nerds quickly deciphered that Nudedragons was an anagram for Soundgarden, reuniting that night for the first time since calling it quits more than a decade earlier. Cook got the invite from his buddy Ben Shepherd, Soundgarden’s bassist, whom he knew from a recording session, and the gig proved magical not only because of the reunion: That evening he was introduced to his future bandmates David Rapaport and drummer Joseph Braley, who also were friends with Shepherd. Cook didn’t know it at the time, but just a few years later, the three of them would be asked to ring in 2015 on that very stage.

The Nudedragons show proved significant for a third reason, too. Cook, a Canadian, decided that night Seattle should become his home. He’d been forging a career as a musician in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, since he was a teenager, but after the reunion gig, Cook ended up back at Shepherd’s studio playing music until the wee hours. “Where else does that sort of thing happen?” he wondered in a recent interview with Seattle Weekly. “You go to a show and then the rest of the night you end up jamming? I knew instantly that’s where I wanted to be.”

Things began to take off once Cook settled here, and he named his project Reignwolf, a moniker he says “describes the way he feels when he plays.” Locals responded warmly to its bluesy hard rock, especially the incendiary live shows where the act sometimes performed as a trio. Yet it was Cook alone—equipped with a guitar, bass drum, and fog machine—who launched this relatively quick rise; his first performance on KEXP, a station he credits as fundamental in generating much of his exposure, was solo. It surely helped that Reignwolf’s sound was perfectly in sync with the pulse of the city, which was gearing up for a reverb-drenched, hard-grooving blues-rock renaissance with bands like Hobosexual, The Grizzled Mighty, and others.

“There’s something about the way that Seattle is to their locals,” Cook, 30, says of the city’s allure to musicians. “People got behind me right away. All the musicians, as much as everybody’s doing their own thing, everybody’s together. That doesn’t happen anywhere else. I’ve never felt that in my life. I love Saskatoon, but it was a place where people do their own thing and they just do their own thing.”

Leveraging this support rather than focusing on making an album, the band instead set its sights on becoming a fierce live act, with performances built around Cook—who frequently plays guitar and drums simultaneously, accompanying himself sometimes on a vintage bass drum at the front of the stage and other times from behind a full drum kit, with one hand hammering out a guitar riff while his other hand—and both feet—keep time. It’s an impressive display. Sometimes the gigs move off the stage altogether and onto the floor. “You feed off the audience so what they bring, you bring,” he says. “And if they’re not getting it, we’re going to keep pushing harder until they do.”

This live-focused approach seems decidedly retro in an era when fans discover new bands on streaming radio much more than in darkened nightclubs. As word-of-mouth spread, Reignwolf managed to do the seemingly impossible: book a number of major tours and festivals without having an album out. “When you’re getting asked out to play with Black Sabbath or the Pixies without a record,” Cook offers, “you know something’s happening.”

In addition to helping ring in the New Year at the Showbox, Cook promises that 2015 will finally deliver a full-length Reignwolf album, though he was reluctant to provide many details. “We have to do it our own way,” he says, “and we’re going to do that; we’re just getting the logistics down now.”

One of the particular challenges of this album, which the group has been recording between tours, is capturing the power of Reignwolf’s live show. One session found the band heading to the studio late one night after a successful gig, still riding the adrenaline wave. “I won’t lie,” Cook says. “That was pretty amazing. We’re trying to do things a little differently to create moments. I think that so far was one of the most magical ones we’ve had yet.”

Hoping to make more memorable moments this New Year’s Eve, Cook is looking forward to playing a few new songs that haven’t been performed live before. He’s also reflective about how far he’s come in just a few years. “Being at the Showbox for 2015 to me is just the right way to bring in the year, because that was the place where it kind of started for us.”

Is there a chance things might come full circle with Soundgarden showing up at his gig? “We’ll see about that,” Cook says. “I let them all know.”

music@seattleweekly.com

REIGNWOLF With Thunderpussy, Rose Windows. The Showbox, 1426 First Ave., 628-3151, showboxpresents.com. $27.50 adv./$30 DOS. 10 p.m. Wed., Dec. 31.


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